Saturday, 31 March 2012

Runaway Deck

Dear Joe,

I have a deck which we converted to a screened room off the back of my house.  The deck was here when we bought the house and we closed it in about five years ago.  Over the last couple of years I have noticed the deck begin to pull away from the house.  It has been getting progressively worse each spring.  I don’t know what to do to stop it or how I can fix it, or if I can fix it.  I would appreciate your insight on this matter before it comes completely off the house and falls down taking my nice screen room with it.



Quite a problem you have on your hands, Will.  This is one of those things that if not taken care of could significantly damage other parts of the house, so in order to mitigate the damage, we need to act quickly and repair the problem or at very least stop the worsening of it.

The first thing you’ll want to check out is how the frame was attached to the house in the first place.  This should tell you why it failed and then you can go about planning how to reattach it properly. 

Once you have ascertained the anchoring problem, the real trick will be getting the deck back into its original position to allow you reattach it.  Short of backing a truck or tractor into it, you will have to be patient and employ a system of jacks, or ratchets in concert with a few well-placed blows from a sledge hammer.  If this doesn’t work, then using a bit more horsepower may be your only option, but I am going on the record as saying I don’t advise it.  Chances are you will do more damage than good.  But if you use your tractor or such as a stationary object you can then jack against it thereby having maximum control over the manipulation of the deck.

Once it’s back in place, you’ll have to get under there and install all the necessary anchors and joist hangers that were probably left out the first time.  No less than 24” apart, preferably 16”.  Now while you’re under there, do a good visual inspection of all the framing members, the footings and the grading up to the house.  You can take this opportunity to true up the main beam by shimming at the footings or deck blocks, making the deck nice and straight again.  You’re down there now, might as well do it, unless of course you like crawling around in the dank dirty space under your deck.

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